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The Boston Globe

World

Syria had help stockpiling nerve gas

Soviet Union, Iran, even US firms pitched in

WASHINGTON — Syria’s top leaders amassed one of the world’s largest stockpiles of chemical weapons with help from the Soviet Union and Iran, as well as Western European suppliers and even a handful of American companies, according to US diplomatic cables and declassified intelligence records.

While an expanding group of nations banded together in the 1980s to try to block the Syrian effort, prohibiting the sale of goods that would bolster the growing chemical weapons stockpile, the archives show that Syria’s governing Assad family exploited large loopholes, lax enforcement, and a far greater international emphasis on limiting the spread of nuclear arms.

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